“That’s the Australian way”: Milicic keen for Westfield Matildas to dominate possession
Westfield Matildas head coach Ante Milicic says his side will continue dominating possession as they look to build on their winning start to the Cup of Nations.
Australia saw off old rivals New Zealand 2-0 at Leichhardt Oval on Thursday night thanks to goals from Emily Gielnik and Hayley Raso either side of half-time.
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Speaking post-match, Milicic said his side ‘enjoyed’ having long spells in possession.
“That’s controlled possession,” Milicic said of his game plan.
“We want the ball, that’s how our players enjoy themselves. Our players are ball-players, they’re very comfortable, again we just have to work on our principles and structure.
“These girls are very good footballers and I think that’s the Australian way, that’s how we want to play, we want to dominate possession and we want the opposition to chase and I’m sure if you ask our players they enjoy that.”
Despite only having a short time to prepare the squad, Milicic said he was more than happy with the manner in which the players had acquitted themselves.
“They did deliver what I was asking,” Milicic said.
“When you’ve only worked with a team a few days it’s difficult to know how they’re going to execute getting your principles across but what delighted me the most was the way they went about it.
“They tried to do everything that we asked of them and we didn’t want to overload them with information but at the same time when you play a game you’ve got to cover as much as possible and the girls were fantastic.”
Thursday’s match also saw the return of Hayley Raso from injury with the Brisbane Roar winger only recently making her comeback at club level after breaking her back last year.
The 24-year old certainly didn’t take long to re-announce herself, needing all of three minutes to get on the scoreboard and double the Westfield Matildas’ lead.
Milicic said the goal was just reward for the hard work she’d put in.
“That’s what we expect from substitutes, particularly a front-third player, to be direct,” Milicic said when asked of Raso’s input.
“It was a good finish. It’s been well documented her injury concerns but that’s in the past.
“She has to move forward and she has done, she’s been great at training and I think that [goal] will do a lot for her confidence because she deserved it.”
Kiwis prepared for Aussie onslaught
New Zealand head coach Tom Sermanni revealed his side had braced themselves for a whirlwind Westfield Matildas outfit.
The Football Ferns were gallant in their 2-0 defeat to the hosts at Leichhardt Oval and Sermanni admitted his squad were not yet at the level required.
“When you consider where both teams are in relation to their preparation, the Matildas have come off a full W-League season and ready to go,” Sermanni explained post-match.
“We have players like Abbey Erceg who’s just come back to the program, hasn’t played since October and several other players in the same situation.
“All things considered I was really, really proud of the effort of the girls and following the game plan that we tried to put out there.”
The former Westfield Matildas boss sung the praises of Australia in the aftermath of the trans-Tasman clash and admitted all they could do was remain compact and look to use their counter-attack.
“I expected what I got, what you’re seeing is a team and group of players that have played together for a very long time,” Sermanni said.
“Albeit they are still young in international terms and we saw that cohesion and how comfortable they are moving the ball, how comfortable they were in possession and we expected all of that.
“Because of our preparation we had to prepare to just try and nullify that as best we can and I think for large parts of the game we did that well and we obviously tried to hit them on the break and I think with just a little bit better timing we could have punished them a couple of times.”